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Life Truly IS Better Shared!

Advertising, marketing, PR, brand communications. They all present challenges, but like Risk or Axis and Allies, the beauty of this lies in the strategy. Whether you meet your goal or come up short, if you approached the strategy with valuable information you can say you gave it all you had. From there, you can look for the successes, the fails, readjust and move forward. Being agile is necessary in today’s digital world. However, when you swing and miss so hard like a 2011 Jorge Posada, there is a point where you have to ask yourself, “WTF!?”

Last summer Applebee’s came out swinging with their “Life is Better” social campaign. But it wasn’t being shared in the positive sense, the response was very negative. The entire execution just came off terribly and a month after their very loud push, it was shut down. The level of success can be found in the root of the strategy. Research should support the efforts of advertising and marketing so that you can execute effectively. It always starts by truly understanding those that the message targets. With the “Life is Better” campaign, it seemed to be targeted at moms who have children in the home, arguably, one of the most (if not, the most) dominant buying force on the web. The same group identifies themselves as “addicted to social media.”

Leave it to the aforementioned to alienate this group via condescending messages using jabs directed at the ladies who use social media, suggesting it’s a waste of time or foolish to use. In Applebee’s defense, it was supposed to be comedic. But it missed the mark. The message starts off mocking the target! Pushing this idea that ladies should give up what has become a cohesive part of their lifestyle to stay connected and to connect IRL (In Real Life) at their neighborhood Applebee’s. I’m a parent, I know a lot of stay at home parents, one of the biggest obstacles for them is finding a social life. This is where social media helps out immensely. But Applebee’s doesn’t seem to understand that.

Maybe they should advise the ladies to stop checking on Foursquare while dining at the establishment, as well.

The ways the strategy goes wrong are many, and the high points are few, if any.

Let’s begin with the fact that in August 2012, 75% of women were users of social networking sites. (Pew) On top of that, lifeisbetter.com is a redirect to a Tumblr profile, essentially making the entire campaign hypocritical. Additionally, Tumblr is the wrong platform. It’s dominated by the 18 to 34 crowd who do not have kids. The older ladies with children are not trolling Tumblr blogs, a platform that focused on the target would have been better suited. A redirect to a Pinterest profile may have created better execution, because women love Pinterest. In fact, Pinterest is the preferred platform among women and the only one that is dominated outright by females. However, I question the effectiveness, because the video content mocked the idea of “pinning” and most likely annoying the target. After all, as most consumers are, I’m less likely to buy from a brand that touches my nerves in a negative way, especially based on mocking my natural habits.

Applebee’s thought they’d come off cute and fun. They didn’t. In fact, I’m still confused as how a women the age of my grandmother was casted to portray a mom getting all of her lady friends together. Applebee’s seemed to miss the beat of women and their social habits:

  • Sixty-two percent of Twitter’s users are female, and each month 40 million more women visit Twitter than men. (HuffPo)
  • The majority of Facebook’s users are ladies, 58% to be exact. (HuffPo)
  • They drive 62% of daily Facebook activity, and 68% of traffic on Pinterest.
  • Oxygen Media, 34% of mothers stated they checked Facebook first thing in the morning, before even stopping in the bathroom. (AllBusiness.com)
  • 55% of women are more likely to purchase from brands they interact with on social media. (Mashable)

Even with all of this, there is one data point that separates itself, 30% of women report they have become more social offline since participating in social media. (Mashable) The main character annoyingly screams, “For seriously!?” questioning women and their habits on the web. But research shows that ladies are more likely to buy from socially apt companies and that nearly a third have become more social offline. These points could have created a far more effective strategy. Rather than obnoxiously patronize them, embrace their habits to create stronger engagement, thus, turning more socially apt ladies raving about their experience at their neighborhood grill. I can help you Applebee’s, let me Google that for you!

Still, Applebee’s may have known that they were going to piss off many people, and I can’t argue the fact that I saw several impressions based on this. Maybe they accomplished their goals. But I doubt ostracizing an entire segment was truly the plan. I also can’t argue that I’m upset that it’s over, that character made my ears bleed.

Danny Schotthoefer is the digital strategist/community manager at an advertising agency in Bozeman, Montana. He is also a TEDx event organizer and an avid Oregon Ducks and Portland Trailblazers fan. You can also find him running via Nike+ and cycling via Strava – he is highly social. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn. Forewarning: He Talks A LOT!

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